Over the past year, Snapchat has quickly transformed from a messaging service primarily used by kids to a powerhouse in the social media space.
By inviting uses to share a rolling 24-hour window of photos and short videos embellished with emojis, text, drawings and filters, Snapchat's story mode provides a more intimate alternative to share your life with friends than Facebook's timeline.
And by offering custom geofilters and brand sponsorship opportunities, Snapchat has demonstrated that they have the ability to monetize the service and they appear to be poising for an IPO.
However, discoverability on Snapchat is still challenging as you must deliberately follow an account in order to see others' stories. The converse is true if you are hoping your masterpiece of Snaptitude is to be viewed by others.
Here are four do's and one don't for growing your Snapchat following
1) Learn how to use the features
Snapchat's interface isn't the most user-friendly. In fact, the Snapchat learning curve is probably greater than any other social network. Fortunately, you won't break anything from playing around with the various functions. While the app does have a brief onboarding tutorial, it doesn't really tell the whole story.
Search YouTube for Snapchat tutorials or check out the one I created with John Lee Dumas of The Entrepreneur on Fire Podcast.
2) Follow and engage
Locate and follow individuals and brands which you find interesting. Because Snapchat doesn't have a search feature, third-party sites and apps such as Ghostcodes have proven to be quite useful. Simply download the app and search for users by category. You'll find everything from storytellers and beauty experts to foodies and photographers. Click to download the Snapcode of someone you think would be interesting and follow that person on Snapchat.
However, it's not enough to follow others. Engage with their snaps. Snap them back when they say something you find interesting or amusing. Share your thoughts and enter into a conversation. This is how relationships are built in the real world. Don't think that it works differently just because you are using a fun app to communicate.
3) Be interesting!
With so many people snapping away, how do you get people to view your snaps. And more importantly, how do you get them to come back for more?
Anyone can use the funny lenses. In fact, most days you'll see more than enough people use the same lenses. Oh, ha ha ha. There's yet another person puking rainbows.
The real trick is not a trick at all. It's the same concept that makes all content work. You must add value!
Your value may come in the form of education, teaching your viewers something. It may come as inspiration or motivation as you provide ideas and thoughts that enrich someone's day. Or it may come in the form of entertainment. If you can sing (either really well or incredibly poorly) you may gain an audience. But comedy, magic, juggling, dancing, telling jokes and any other number of talents could garner you an audience.
And for those who lead interesting lives (more fascinating than what you are eating for dinner every night), you may have people watch you to see where you are, who you are with and what you are doing.
Any way you slice it, content is king. If you capture the attention of your followers with quality content, there's a good chance they will come back for more AND recommend others follow you as well.
4) Vary your snaps
We live in a highly visual society and there's nothing more boring than snap after snap of a person telling a story that isn't visually interesting.
Even if the story you are sharing is incredibly compelling, you might find people tapping through it and missing out on what you are saying if you don't change up the visuals. Try different camera angles. Use close ups. Apply various lenses. There's a reason that movies and TV shows change camera angles regularly. Take a note from the pros and keep it fresh.
Oh, and while it may seem like landscape video makes the most sense, Snapchat is designed for portrait / vertical viewing. People are trained to see your snaps natively in portrait mode via the app, so snapping landscape may mess with their mojo.
5) And the one BIG don't...
There are two modes to Snapchat. Private snaps and your public story mode. The story is for people who are following your 24-hour window. But Private snaps are specifically for messaging people when the snap is specifically related to them. It may be one person that you are having a direct conversation with. Or it could be several friends that you want to share something with. There's nothing wrong with that, UNLESS the content of the snap really doesn't concern the individual receiving it.
A prevalent problem is that people who don't know any better will record a snap and rather than add it to their story, they will click on each friend to receive the snap directly.
This is a breach of snap etiquette (Snapchatiquette, as I like to call it) and it's the wrong way to snap.
One additional reason people private snap is to increase their snap score. This is the number that appears under your username on the main screen. It's merely an indicator of how many private snaps you have sent and received. An entirely meaningless statistic, there are those who will indiscriminately send private snaps simply to increase their snap score. It's annoying and it needs to stop.
Because I receive so many private snaps that don't really concern me, I created a story on Snapchat to help educate others.
Follow these Snapchat tips and you'll be well on your way to building a quality Snapchat audience and being an influential part of the fastest growing social community in the world!